A pilot research project has detected a healthy, asymptomatic cat infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and whose owner suffered from the disease of COVID-19, which according to the data of those responsible for the work, could be the first of these characteristics to be found in Europe.
This cat of European breed, which is still healthy, is the property of a coronavirus patient who was admitted, Efe has confirmed the head of the Departments of Infectious Diseases of the Hospital Universitario San Pedro de Logroño and the Biomedical Research Center of La Rioja ( CIBIR), José Antonio Oteo.
The finding occurred within a pilot research project led by Oteo and developed from April 8 to May 4 with 23 companion animals of people with coronavirus disease in La Rioja.
Twelve dogs, eight cats, two rabbits and a guinea pig were studied, and their owners took some of the samples necessary in this study, following the advice that the researchers sent them in a video recorded by themselves.
The infection was found in the sample in the mouth made to one of the cats, who was asymptomatic and who “continues perfect, healthy”, he added.
“This means,” he stressed, “that pets can be infected by sick people and, as such, we have to protect them.”
He also stressed that “no one has shown that companion animals can be a source of infection for humans,” but “further investigation is required.”
“Probably, they do not have enough viral load to infect us, but information must be generated when a new emergent infection appears,” as has happened with COVID-19, Oteo insisted.
He has acknowledged that he is concerned about what is being communicated about minks, in relation to the possibility that they could be a source of infection for humans.
This researcher, one of the world’s leading experts in tick-borne diseases, has specified that, when a new disease appears, an emerging infection, knowledge must be generated.
Oteo has pointed out that many conclusions cannot be drawn from this pilot project, but that cats can get sick.
“We can infect our pets,” he said, which is why he has urged “to be careful when you are sick and not expose them to our secretions.”
In addition, he has urged “protect our pets, take care of them and follow hygiene rules, as with people,” he insisted.